Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood. ~Fred Rogers
Number 3 on my list of artists that inspire my artwork is Andy Warhol. My Mom (a costumer and seamstress who loved his work) gave me my first vehicle as a toddler-a wheeled plastic Campbell’s soup can. The toy survived 10 years and I believe it helped to develop my fascination with everyday objects reproduced on a large scale.
As a New Yorker with parents that enjoyed art, museums were a regular family destination, and I liked the bright colors, repetition, and familiarity of Pop Art- with Warhol, Claes Oldenberg and Roy Lichtenstein being my favorites. Walking around Manhattan in the 1970’s, the lines between fine and commercial art were blurred under the influence of Pop Art: hundreds of playbills with repetitive imagery were posted everywhere, store displays with jumbo products in cardboard cutouts and as floating inflatable objects, graffiti and the popularity of comic book illustrations on billboards.
In my early teens, I began reading biographies of people I admired. One of my favorites- a gift from my Dad was A to B and Back Again: The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, which I’ve reread ever since. It’s quirky and funny, but what really left an impression was his amazing work ethic- something that would appeal to this natural workaholic.
My parents would tease me about how seriously I took my childhood playtime: creating books of art that I would sell to my Dad for a fee, building cities in the basement with my multiple Panel and Girder and Hot Wheels Racetrack sets, lemonade stands and a scheme that involved selling Village Voices from my aunt’s East Village apartment building to commuters at the bus stop in our Brooklyn neighborhood. This personality trait has steadied my focus on creating art and is visible in everything that I do: from household chores to making my annual Mardi Gras costumes.
Andy Warhol has been the most visible member of the Pop Art movement in my life and he has influenced my work in 3 ways that can be seen in my Post-Katrina effort Signs of the Times, an installation of forty oil paintings depicting portraits of the McDonald’s Golden Arches wind warped by Hurricane Katrina:
- Iconograhy– I used popular corporate brands to make a visual statement.
- Repetition– Although my desire is more inspired by Monet in this respect (see the #4 in this blog series), the outcome is similar in that the viewer is surrounded by an idea that gives the subject strength.
- Work Ethic– I am disciplined about creating art and producing in a serial format results in a large collection of work.